Gulf War Illness: Evaluation of an Innovative Detoxification Program

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT01672710
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : August 27, 2012
Last Update Posted : December 11, 2015
United States Department of Defense
The Sage Colleges
Women's College Hospital
Severna Park Health and Wellness Center
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
David O. Carpenter, University at Albany

Brief Summary:
Gulf War illness is found in about one fourth of veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War and is characterized by persistent memory and concentration problems, headaches, fatigue and muscle and joint pain. It is not known what causes the illness, but exposure to chemicals is suspected. The Hubbard detoxification program consists of exercise and sauna therapy together with administration of several dietary supplements, particularly crystalline niacin used at increasing concentrations over a period of about four weeks. The investigators hypothesize that this program will reduce symptoms, as tested by administration of cognitive and quality of life tests and serum clinical chemistry tests.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Persian Gulf War Syndrome in Veteran Other: Hubbard detoxification program Phase 1

Detailed Description:

This will be a randomized controlled trial of changes in fatigue and pain symptoms, measured quality of life, mental health status, and neuro-cognitive functioning of a group of GWVs after a 4 to 6 week sauna detoxification regimen as compared to control. For control subjects we will also have a group of GWVs receiving usual care who are randomly assigned to a waitlist and who will start the intervention after a four to six week delay. The waitlist group will also take part in the baseline tests a second time just prior to their treatment 4 to 6 weeks later and a 7-day post-treatment battery of tests the same as described for the treatment group. Finally, there will be a 3-month follow-up with both the groups. The Severna Park Health and Wellness Center (SPHWC) is a commercial center that offers the Hubbard detoxification program. The investigators will contract with SPHWC to provide the program to the subjects of this study and to provide office space for the Study Coordinator, so that all components of this project except the initial Physician evaluation and blood sample acquisition can be done at the Center, not just the detoxification.

Study Variables: The investigators will examine:

  • Quality of life as measured by the Veterans Short Form (SF36-V). The SF36-V also includes physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) component summary scores.
  • Case status for GWI will be assessed utilizing the Kansas criteria.
  • Symptoms of GWI will be measured with the Kansas Gulf War Veterans Health Project Questionnaire, the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory, and the short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire.
  • Cognitive function will be measured with a battery of neurocognitive tests. These will include visual motor, memory and executive functioning as measured by the Trailmaking test, Grooved Pegboard, Wechsler Memory Abbreviated test, and the Stroop color word test. To account for potential confounding in neurocognitive testing, mental health status will be evaluated using the Symptom Checklist 90 revised and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory.
  • Physical health status will be measured via standard medical examination and laboratory analyses of serum metabolic panel, lipid profile and hormones.

Sampling Method: This will be a convenience sample and will consist of Gulf War Veterans who meet the Kansas case definition for Gulf War illness and reside in the Washington/Baltimore area. The individuals who show interest in this study, who meet eligibility criteria and subsequently agree to participate will be selected to enroll in the study.

Randomization: Volunteers will be randomly assigned to a group when they enroll. One group will be the immediate experimental intervention group and one group will be the wait-list control group. Random assignment will be achieved by use of sequentially numbered, opaque, sealed envelopes. Both will undergo the detoxification protocol, but the control group will be tested twice prior to treatment.

Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 32 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Pilot Study of Application of the Hubbard Detoxification Program to Veterans With Gulf War Illness
Study Start Date : April 2010
Actual Primary Completion Date : November 2015
Actual Study Completion Date : December 2015

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Hubbard detoxification program
Daily mild-moderate exercise for 20 minutes, intermittent Finnish saunas at 140'F for approximately 4 hours, dietary supplements including immediate release niacin in gradually increasing doses per Hubbard protocol.
Other: Hubbard detoxification program
A four to six week regimen consisting of daily, supervised, mild-moderate exercise as tolerated for 20 minutes, supervised, intermittent Finnish saunas (at about 140'F) sauna time with breaks and showers, gradually increased as tolerated to approximately 4 hours, dietary supplements including immediate release niacin in gradually increasing doses from 100 mg to a maximum of 5000 mg per day, salt and water, other vitamins, minerals and oils per Hubbard protocol.

No Intervention: Usual Care
Veterans with Gulf War illness continue with usual medical management as required.

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Improvement on quality of life measurement [ Time Frame: Subjects will be tested at three points in time for the experimental and four points for the control group. The investigators expect to have completed recruitment of all subjects and obtained all information at the end of no more than two years. ]
    Qualify of life will be determined by quality of life tests given before the detoxification program, immediately after and three months after completion of the detoxification program. The hypothesis to be tested is that subjects will report a maintained improved quality of life after completion of the program.

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Improved performance on cognitive function tests [ Time Frame: All cognitive tests will be given at the same schedule as listed above, with tests given at four times for the control group and three for the experimental group. ]
    Several cognitive function tests will be given before, immediately after and three months after completion of the program. The hypothesis being tested is that performance will have improved after the program.

Other Outcome Measures:
  1. Improved clinical chemistry test parameters [ Time Frame: Blood draws for clinical chemistries will be obtained at each of time points listed above. The investigators expect ot have completed recruitment of all subjects and obtained all information at the end of no more than two years. ]
    All subjects will have blood samples drawn for measurement of comprehensive metabolic panel, lipid panel, complete blood count with differential and thyroid panel before, immediately after and three months after completing the program.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Older Adult
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Any veteran of the 1990-1991 Gulf War who meets the Kansas Gulf War Illness case definition.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Veterans who meet the inclusion criteria but have been diagnosed by a physician with (1) chronic conditions (eg., cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, etc.) that are not associated with Gulf War service but can produce diverse symptoms similar to Gulf War Illness; (2) conditions that might interfere with respondents' ability to report symptoms (eg., psychiatric conditions or history of hospitalization for depression, alcohol or drug dependence; (3) pregnancy or unwillingness to use contraception.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT01672710

United States, Maryland
Severna Park Health and Wellness Center
Annapolis, Maryland, United States, 21401
Sponsors and Collaborators
University at Albany
United States Department of Defense
The Sage Colleges
Women's College Hospital
Severna Park Health and Wellness Center
Principal Investigator: David O Carpenter, MD University at Albany

Responsible Party: David O. Carpenter, Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany, University at Albany Identifier: NCT01672710     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: GW093066
First Posted: August 27, 2012    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: December 11, 2015
Last Verified: December 2015

Keywords provided by David O. Carpenter, University at Albany:
Hubbard detoxification
Sauna therapy

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Persian Gulf Syndrome
Occupational Diseases
Hypolipidemic Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Lipid Regulating Agents
Vasodilator Agents
Vitamin B Complex
Growth Substances
Physiological Effects of Drugs